Birding Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park

It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly two weeks since we had a brief respite from the rain. I still haven’t gotten out for a full day of birding or photographing since March 24 and our trip to Port Townsend.

It sure seemed then that Spring and some good weather had finally arrived. The wild cherry blossoms were in full bloom at “Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park”

Spring Blossoms

The trees were bursting with songbirds, too busy to sit still for a portrait

Golden-Crowned Kingle

and I felt lucky to get a shot of this Golden-Crowned Kinglet as it flitted from branch to branch.

I also managed to spot the first male Ruddy Duck

male Ruddy Duck

I’ve seen with a blue bill.

Heck the light was even good enough to get a good shot of a male Bufflehead

male Bufflehead

where you can see the iridescent sheen in the black, make out an eye, and even see some details in the white portion of his body. Over the years I’ve found it incredibly difficult to capture both the black and white features of these guys unless the light is just right.

Luckily all the rain has given me some time to read poetry and I should be able to post some comments on my latest reading tomorrow.

Black Oystercatcher

Before leaving Fort Flagler, I wanted to make a quick stop at a spot where I’ve gotten some of my best shots of Harlequin Ducks. I purposely parked far enough away that I wouldn’t spook the birds on the shoreline.

Leslie got out the binoculars and said that there were Harlequins, Turnstones, and two large, black birds with an orange beak. I could see the first two, but I couldn’t see any large black bird and couldn’t quite imagine what it would be.

At first I focused on the Harlequins, but as I got closer to the shoreline my attention focused on that black bird with the orange beak.

Black Oystercatcher

It didn’t take long to realize it was a Black Oystercatcher because it’s one of the few birds I hadn’t seen after four years of birding. It turned out I had seen one last Fall, but it was a distant shot of them far below me on the rocks. I never realized just how big of a bird they really were.

Perhaps their size explained why they weren’t nearly as intimidated as most shorebirds. This one looked downright indifferent.

Black Oystercatcher

This one, however, looked like it had had enough after I snapped a few shots.

Black Oystercatcher

I’m not sure I’ll ever manage to get a better shot than this one.

Black Oystercatcher

In fact, this shot we so good that it made me wonder if the color balance in my camera was off because the body definitely looked brown, not black. A little research revealed that only the head is truly black, though under most lighting conditions the brown would also seem black. I loved the orange and yellow eyes and orange beak.

It was a thrill getting this close to a bird I’ve only seen twice in 5+ years of birding. I doubt it could ever become a “favorite” like the Harlequin Ducks, but it was definitely my favorite bird of the day.

Shorebirds at Ft. Flagler

It’s not unusual for me to go to an area looking for a particular species of bird. In fact, you have to do so if you ever want to see certain birds. So, I went to Ft. Flagler knowing I was likely to see Harlequin ducks there. Usually, the Harlequins are a ways offshore, heads down, looking for something to eat. Not surprisingly, that was where I focused my attention.

As I walked the beach, though, I would occasional flush a small shorebird and marvel at its beautiful wing pattern. I finally spotted one of the birds before it took flight, and it turned out to be


a Turnstone in winter colors.

It was so small and blended in so well that it’s no wonder I hadn’t spotted one at a distance, even after refocusing my attention on the near shore. I got even better shots on the way back from the point, after I’d gotten all the Harlequin pictures I expected, because I was trying to get a shot of one in flight. I never did, but I got some shots I liked, like this one where the rocks give a sense of the bird’s size.


Once I refocused on the shoreline, I also spotted a number of Black-Bellied Plovers just starting to transition into their breeding colors.

Black-Bellied Plover in transition colors

I could’t get a shot of one of them in flight, either, but this shot of one just taking off gives a sense of its wing pattern.

Black-Bellied Plover